Don Callejon ’52 was born to a Spanish immigrant and a first-generation Californian in 1930 in San Jose. The family, including younger sister June, raised cauliflower, cherries, walnuts, and rabbits. As a young man Don spent many arduous seasons in the fields, sometimes trudging behind a plow. This forged his legendary work ethic. Don met Clare Silvera of Milpitas in late spring of 1951 at a dance at St. John’s Catholic Church. They married at the same spot in December that same year. Don taught in the classroom, was vice principal, principal, superintendent, and board member in the Santa Clara Unified School district during a career that spanned more than 40 years. He is remembered as a leader who advocated for students and teachers alike, and his contributions were honored in 2006 when Don Callejon School, the first new school in 40 years in Santa Clara, opened in the Rivermark area. Beyond his career, Don was a sought-after leader and mentor. He served on the Boards of St. Francis High School, The Bill Wilson Center, and the Bronco Bench Foundation. When the 49ers wanted to make their home in Santa Clara, they asked Don to co-chair the effort with his long-time buddy Larry Marsalli. Don taught his children Rick, Chuck, and Donna, to fish on yearly vacations in the Gold Country, and how to drive a forklift at the family ranch. In the 1960s when his sons were excelling in sports, Don drove All-Star little league teams to Southern California, Utah and beyond. He attended almost every one of his kids’ games, and did his best to keep the referees and umpires on their toes. Don and Clare were true Santa Clarans and committed themselves to the community. He maintained one of the most meticulous yards in town, replete with roses, orchids, prolific apple and orange trees and perfect dichondra grass. Countless aspiring city council and school board members sought their endorsement as an indicator of bona fides. And Don was a treasure trove of Santa Clara history, which he reveled in recounting. He died on February 27, 2021.

01 Jul 2021